The Greenpower team have been exceptionally busy over the last few weeks, building our new lead car RLR2 and culminating in two events at Newquay last Thursday and Merryfield in Somerset on Saturday. Here's what happened...
18th June - South West Heat at Newquay.
RLR2 and the team performed brilliantly through practice to post second best time behind Viper (4) (Taunton School) which was fantastic as this was the first time the car had ever run! We chose to remain conservative and keep the gearing as it was for race 1 (matching RLR1's gearing from the previous year). We scored a 2nd place podium behind Viper which was not too bad for her first ever race. Drivers Nathanael Potts, Charlie Elford and Toby Neal did a great job in the new car. Race 2 saw a more interesting battle develop. Viper lead off from the front row whereas RLR2 started on 2nd row. By the end of the first lap Toby Neal had pulled RLR2 into the lead where a close battle ensued for the next several laps with RLR2 holding onto the lead by just a few seconds. Just before the first pit stop, disaster struck RLR2 - the front left wheel bracket broke off the axle tube and our race was unfortunately over. Viper went on to win the race unchallenged. We began the repair work at the event before packing up for home. Ironically we won the 'Best Engineered Car' award, which is impressive all things considered. A small team stayed on at school to carry out the repair work and by around 9pm we had completed a successful repair using carbon fibre and epoxy. All fingers were then crossed as the car and trailer were packed again for Saturday's race.
20th June - Somerset Heat at RNAS Merryfield.
The team set off from RLS bright and early at 6am for the drive up to Merryfield near Taunton. Race 1 began well as we took the lead in the first few laps, but in the last 15-20 minutes of the hour and a half, RLR2 experienced an agonising drop in pace which caused us to retire, collectively scratching our heads. We had an hour and a half to find the problems (bearing in mind the rebuild the previous day). Firstly we found the axle nut had come away on track from the front left and we were without a spare nut, so we turned to other teams for help. Thanks to Penair school(!) we were able to borrow a replacement coarse pitch axle bolt and Renishaw (an engineering company competing in the 16-25 year age group) were able to provide a corresponding nut (there is a good deal of camaraderie at the races now!) We also found the bearings in the front left wheel were broken and seized - possibly due to the Newquay incident on Thursday. Renishaw stepped in again with a spare bearing which was fitted before the whole car was checked over. A few minor tweaks to the tracking and we returned to the track for race 2. The difference in performance was clear and Tom Parker took the lead from the second row of the grid to set a blistering pace. The race was incredibly close with the top 5 cars all running within a few seconds of each other which was nerve shredding for all involved. Tom handed over to Charlie Elford for the second stint who maintained the lead and fell in behind a lapped car (running in 3rd) which enabled some drafting to take place. The third and final stint went to Dulcie Havers who drove consistently to bring home RLR2 in first place! Thankfully the new car had held together and we took our second ever race win in Greenpower. The mileage over the race was 41.3 miles - this figure is then adjusted so that only 90 minutes exactly of running is considered when comparing cars across different events. Our adjusted figure of 41.06 miles at a tight circuit known for being tough on cars and tyre wear has put us in 4th place nationally out of 106 cars, ahead of last years champion team and very much in contention for the International finals at Rockingham. Given RLR2 was only just completed in time for these races and was extensively repaired inbetween them gives a great deal of confidence for the future. There are many updates in the pipeline which will improve the pace further.
For the race result see http://bbk-online.net/gpt/race253.php
For the qualification table see http://www.greenpower.co.uk/events/f24-qualification-table-2015
There are several other regional heats to yet to run so positions will likely change, but we will be attending the Western Regional heat at Castle Combe at the end of September to try and put RLR2 on the front row of the grid for the finals.
Many thanks to Mr (DT) Pascoe, Mrs and Mr Elford and Mr Brooker for supporting the current team, and also to the SLT and the Headmaster for their continuing support of this project.
Mr Lloyd-King on behalf of the Greenpower Team.